Skip to Main Content

How Do I...?: Use the Databases

Research Databases

Research databases are like Google, except the results are typically academic sources. In fact, Google Scholar is Google's own version of a research database. 
Academic Libraries subscribe to multiple different research databases (Lipscomb Library subscribes to nearly 70). These databases may vary by topic or the type of resources they provide, but generally these are searchable databases of academic research articles. When you need to cite scholarly sources, you can find those in our research databases.
Use this guide to learn how to access and search in a research database. Scroll to the bottom to find video tutorials for specific databases. 
Need help? Ask a librarian!

Accessing the Databases

If you are looking for a specific database, you can find it in the Database A-Z List. If you're not sure what database to use, check out our Research Guides by Subject. These guides guides list useful resources for each subject area, including research databases. The Database List and the Research Guides can be found on the home page, under the search box:

Recommended research databases are listed near the top of each research guide. Some databases are specific to a certain subject area, while others cover many different subject areas.

Using the Databases

Our databases come from several different vendors, so they may look different from one another; but, they mostly all work the same way. The majority of our databases are provided by EBSCOhost, so the examples below are from an EBSCOhost database. The concepts discussed should work in most databases, but might look a little different.

Most research databases have multiple search boxes. Before you start searching, think about how to break your search into keywords. In this example, we're looking for research on whether having a dog in your life effects your happiness. Below is an example of a bad way to search:


A better way to use these search boxes is to break your search into keywords. Below is an example of a much better search:



You should do multiple searches using different keywords. For example, maybe you're seeing a lot of results about dog walking. Let's add that into the search. Also, try typing "or" after one of your keywords to see recommended synonyms: 


Spend some time thinking about those different keywords and how they relate to each other. In addition to "AND," these databases use "OR," and "NOT" to describe a search. These terms are called Boolean limiters. Learn more about them here through the New York Public Library.

Refining Results

In the results page, you'll see options to filter your results (usually to the left of the results). You can filter by date range, publication type, and full-text access:

Video Tutorials

Many of our database providers have Youtube channels with helpful video tutorials. Several are linked here:

American Chemical Society Publications  
   Searching and Browsing in ACS Publications
   Finding High-Quality Original Research in PsycINFO

Introduction to EBSCOhost
   How to Search to Find Articles and eBooks on JSTOR
​Mergent Online
   Getting Started with Mergent Online
   ScienceDirect: Search